The New Breed Of Pot Entrepreneurs

joint_300x200Welcome to a world in which suburban, big-box superstores sell all things marijuana-related. With pot nearly decriminalized in California, will the burgeoning retail chain weGrow become the Wal-Mart of weed? From Mother Jones:

On a Sunday in early October, Dhar Mann threw a party at weGrow, his hydroponic marijuana superstore in Oakland, California. Trailed by a three-person video crew from Hempire, the reality-show pilot he’s costarring in, Mann gave sound bites to a pack of reporters as he strutted past Ikea-style displays showcasing products for every stage of indoor cannabis cultivation—from Sun Pulse lightbulbs to $700 grow tents and Bud Candy plant nutrients. “It’s the whole supply chain,” said the fauxhawked 26-year-old, self-assured in a tailored gray suit and red silk tie.

Two years ago, Mann says, he had never seen a pot plant. Today, he envisions weGrow becoming the “Wal-Mart of Weed,” a vertically integrated chain of big-box stores perfectly positioned to cash in on California’s booming marijuana industry as it moves from the shadows to the mainstream. In this “green rush” for semi-legal weed, Mann and his partner Derek Peterson, a 36-year-old investment banker, seek to be the modern equivalents of Levi Strauss and Samuel Brannan—the Gold Rush entrepreneurs who made a killing not from mining, but from selling pans, pickaxes, and victuals to the forty-niners.

“Derek and I have really thought about how we can capture the entire market segment,” Mann says. Since it opened a year ago in a 15,000-square-foot warehouse near the Oakland International Airport, weGrow has aggressively tried to cover as many angles as possible: It trains aspiring medical marijuana growers at its University of Cannabis (the “Princeton of Pot”); manufactures its own brand of indoor growing gear (GrowOp); dispatches its hydroponics experts on house calls; and keeps a doctor onsite to write medical marijuana recommendations. Mann and Peterson say they’ve signed contracts to open 75 franchise stores in California, Oregon, Arizona, Colorado, and Illinois, and they’re talking up an IPO later this year.

Like Mann and Peterson, Oakland has come to embrace the financial side effects of medical marijuana. The city recently approved a package of permits and taxes for pot-related businesses that it estimates could bring in more than $10 million annually. WeGrow has already caught the eye of local politicians, including Jean Quan, a city council member who was elected mayor in November. On a stage outside the warehouse, Quan commended the company: “I want to congratulate Derek and Dhar. And I want to say that this is just probably the first step in California and perhaps the rest of the nation.”

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  • Someonesname

    Im all for legalization but the walmart of weed makes my stomach turn and my head turn towards the sky while i scream to “god”: WHYYYYYYYYYYY MEEEEEEEEEEEEE?

  • Someonesname

    Im all for legalization but the walmart of weed makes my stomach turn and my head turn towards the sky while i scream to “god”: WHYYYYYYYYYYY MEEEEEEEEEEEEE?

    • DeepCough

      I, too, bemoan and despise the fact that the only way weed can be legal is so a greedy asshole can collect all the profits.

      • ddc1

        what did you think was going to happen. Big Agra will be the first to make profits.

  • DeepCough

    I, too, bemoan and despise the fact that the only way weed can be legal is so a greedy asshole can collect all the profits.

  • ddc1

    what did you think was going to happen. Big Agra will be the first to make profits.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Karen-Madd/100001926457658 Karen Madd

    bring it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Karen-Madd/100001926457658 Karen Madd

    bring it.

  • doctor-K

    When we advocate against Cannabis prohibition, we must stress not just the “denial of good” which it entails, such as the remarkable medicinal properties of the plant, its violence-suppressing potential, or its ability to induce calm and relaxed state which is “worlds apart” from the effects of alcohol and many “legal” prescription drugs. Cannabis Prohibition is an unadulterated evil, as it pushes the people to engage in a dangerous substance use, such as the stories with alcoholic caffeinated drinks just explicitly demonstrated. The cruelty and senselessness of the prohibitionists have also been made obvious recently, when an Oklahoma mom received 10-year sentence for $31worth of Cannabis, when the medicinal Cannabis providers and patients continue to be raided and harassed. What more evidence of political piracy can be presented than when the dogmatic “politicos” want to directly trample the Will of Montana voters with respect to Medicinal Cannabis, which Citizens lawfully enacted in their state, or when Las Vegas police and DEA continue to harass the Medicinal Cannabis establishments? To what level of hypocrisy and spiritual degradation can one descend when the medicinal Cannabis patients are persecuted in the city where alcohol abuse and compulsive gambling are rampant?! My only hope in the midst of all this prohibitionist outrage is that its collapse is philosophically inevitable. In particular, when the DEA and its allies blackmail politicians into voting against Medicinal Cannabis, they do so on the basis of an unreal “entity”, the so-called “gateway drug” theory that is fully discredited by now as “half-baked”! The Cannabis prohibitionists are guilty of crimes against humanity, they will get their own “Tahrir Square” sooner or later, and I would give a lot to be a witness to THAT!

  • Leonard Krivitsky, MD

    When we advocate against Cannabis prohibition, we must stress not just the “denial of good” which it entails, such as the remarkable medicinal properties of the plant, its violence-suppressing potential, or its ability to induce calm and relaxed state which is “worlds apart” from the effects of alcohol and many “legal” prescription drugs. Cannabis Prohibition is an unadulterated evil, as it pushes the people to engage in a dangerous substance use, such as the stories with alcoholic caffeinated drinks just explicitly demonstrated. The cruelty and senselessness of the prohibitionists have also been made obvious recently, when an Oklahoma mom received 10-year sentence for $31worth of Cannabis, when the medicinal Cannabis providers and patients continue to be raided and harassed. What more evidence of political piracy can be presented than when the dogmatic “politicos” want to directly trample the Will of Montana voters with respect to Medicinal Cannabis, which Citizens lawfully enacted in their state, or when Las Vegas police and DEA continue to harass the Medicinal Cannabis establishments? To what level of hypocrisy and spiritual degradation can one descend when the medicinal Cannabis patients are persecuted in the city where alcohol abuse and compulsive gambling are rampant?! My only hope in the midst of all this prohibitionist outrage is that its collapse is philosophically inevitable. In particular, when the DEA and its allies blackmail politicians into voting against Medicinal Cannabis, they do so on the basis of an unreal “entity”, the so-called “gateway drug” theory that is fully discredited by now as “half-baked”! The Cannabis prohibitionists are guilty of crimes against humanity, they will get their own “Tahrir Square” sooner or later, and I would give a lot to be a witness to THAT!

  • raise med prices

    Monsanto will eventually put their dna tag in all strains too and do what they have done to the farming industry, nauseating stuff. If you aren’t familiar with Monsanto look into them, destroying a million years of evolution at the speed of light.

  • William eppley

    looking for a cannabis aficionado tech, savy in the way of websites for a new opportunity in the cannabis field.
    William R.Eppley, Sr ( weppsr@gmail.com )

  • William eppley

    looking for a cannabis aficionado tech, savy in the way of websites for a new opportunity in the cannabis field.
    William R.Eppley, Sr ( weppsr@gmail.com )

  • Dark matter symianz

    whats wrong here is that they are trying to capitalize off of it but thats the way of the world now
    if you can make a dollar multiply into millions then you can a small business into a corporation so you can sustain the wealth. But what got me is the fact that Mann didnt see a pot plant until 2yrs ago. I’m always for anyone who is trying to end the bs that has been placed upon cannabis in the U.S. and even more the world.
     

  • Dark matter symianz

    whats wrong here is that they are trying to capitalize off of it but thats the way of the world now
    if you can make a dollar multiply into millions then you can a small business into a corporation so you can sustain the wealth. But what got me is the fact that Mann didnt see a pot plant until 2yrs ago. I’m always for anyone who is trying to end the bs that has been placed upon cannabis in the U.S. and even more the world.